Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas are already discussing “core issues” in the fledgling Israel-PA negotiations, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday in an interview with Channel 10 news.
“I really admire the way they got right into it,” Clinton said of the latest meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas, earlier this week. There were no agreements reached, she said, but there were “very difficult and intense negotiations on all of the core issues.”
“Core issues” include the status of Israel's capital city, Jerusalem, which the PA demands much of as the capital of a future PA state, the Arab world's demand for a “right of return” for descendents of Arabs who fled Israel during the War of Independence, and the future of the roughly 400,000 Israeli Jews living east of the 1949 armistice line, in territories claimed by the PA as part of a future Arab state that will not allow Israeli Jews to stay on as citizens. Prime MInister Netanyahu's "core" issues, the recogniztion of Israel as a Jewish state and ensuring security for Israel's citizens, were not mentioned..
Clinton spoke regarding the 10-month construction freeze in Judea and Samaria. Abbas has demanded that Netanyahu extend the freeze, which Netanyahu has refused to do, citing the widespread opposition to the freeze within his coalition, and the fact that Abbas avoided talks until the freeze was close to its end.
While recognizing Netanyahu's arguments as “fair,” Clinton pushed for an extension of the freeze, saying that additional time in which Jews are prohibited to build east of the armistice line would be “extremely useful” for talks.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak also went onto Israeli television Thursday to talk about the freeze. Speaking on Channel 1, Mubarak said he had told Netanyahu to extend the freeze by three or four months.